IoT for Good: How the Internet of Things is Transforming Our World for the Better

Increasingly, the transformative power of the Internet of Things is making our world a better place. From reducing city pollution to creating smarter crop management practices and more sustainable energy, IoT is helping to advance economic and social benefits.
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Top 5 IoT trends transforming business in 2018

What a year! 2017 brought us transformation and excitement in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.

It’s been a true transformation. We’ve seen almost every industry invest in IoT, and leading industries are quickly moving to implement IoT solutions that drive the bottom line. Consumer products, like wearables and connected electronics, are certainly a large part of the market. But IDC estimates more than 80 percent of IoT spend through 2020 will be on B2B applications and use cases.

That’s why IoT will be one of the primary drivers of the digital transformation in 2018 and beyond. Using IoT, successful companies will create a self-learning environment. In turn, those will drive digital disruption in the physical world. New business models will emerge, along with changes in work processes, productivity improvements, cost containment and enhanced customer experiences.

With all this in mind, I want to share what I believe will be the top five IoT trends in 2018.

Trend #1 Digital Twin

In the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), businesses will need to rethink their tools if operations, supply chains and value propositions are to remain competitive. The IBM Institute of Business Value report, “Thinking out of the toolbox,” highlights the realization by executives that digital data holds the promise to eliminate guessing and start understanding operations.

A significant finding: More than half (54 percent) of the respondents prioritized digital for ‘Product quality monitoring and predicting failures.’ And 52 percent said ‘Manufacturing plant optimization.’

What is a Digital Twin?

A key tool to improve operations with digital data is the Digital Twin.

Digital Twins are a huge next step in the world of IoT. In brief, the digital twin is a virtual doppelganger of the real-world thing. (Read more about Digital Twins.) In a software-everywhere world, Digital Twin technology will help organizations bridge the divide between the physical and digital.

A key trend for 2018: Digital Twins

An Digital Twin example: the Bugatti W16 combustion engine

The Digital Twin serves as a looking glass into what’s happening within physical assets. They also give insight into changes required for the future. Leveraging your IoT investments, and IBM Watson, the Digital Twin visualizes the hidden insights and dependencies of usability, traceability and quality. And all of these will eventually be part of your operations revolution. Eventually, with sensors everywhere, operations and interactions could be customized for every client.

Ultimately, the Digital Twin accelerates the product development timeline at reduced costs. As the digital counterpart of a physical product, the Digital Twin allows product developers to create, test, build, monitor, maintain and service products in a virtual environment. In short, the Digital Twin empowers organizations to shift to an operations-centric view. Proactive and predictive maintenance enables front line personnel to act before costly delays or failures occur and keep product development.

Trend #2 Blockchain

In 2018, Blockchain will play a major role by enhancing security, making transactions more seamless and creating efficiencies in the supply chain. (If you’re not familiar with the term, check out the blockchain cheat sheet.)

I expect the coming year will be one in which we see companies start to leverage blockchain in three key ways:

  1. Build trust.  Blockchain can help build trust between the people and parties that transact together. Watson IoT blockchain enables devices to participate in blockchain transactions as a trusted party. While Person A may not know device B and may not trust it implicitly, the indelible record of transactions and data from devices stored on the blockchain provide proof and command the necessary trust for businesses and people to cooperate.
  2. Reduce costs. IoT and blockchain enable participants to reduce monetary and time commitment costs by ultimately removing the “middle man” from the process. Transactions and device data are now exhibited on a peer-to-peer basis, removing most legal or contractual costs.
  3. Accelerate transactions. IoT and blockchain enable more transactions overall because it removes the middle man from the process. Organizations reduce the time needed for completing legal or contractual commitments through smart contracts.

Transforming your business with blockchain

Blockchain for IoT can transform the way business transactions are conducted globally by providing a trustworthy environment. These transactions are automated and encoded while enterprise-level privacy is preserved, offering security for all parties.

With IBM Watson IoT Blockchain, information from IoT devices is used in transactions. These blockchain-based solutions help organizations improve operational efficiency, transform customer experience, and adopt new business models. And it’s all done in a secure, private and decentralized manner. That means greater value for every participating organizations, a goal we should all strive for in 2018.

Trend #3 Security

As we rely on connected devices to make our lives better and easier in 2018, security is a must. All participants in the IoT ecosystem are responsible for the security of the devices, data and solutions. This means that device manufacturers, application developers, consumers, operators, integrators and enterprise businesses should all follow best practices.

IoT security requires a multi-layered approach. From a device point of view, it starts with design and development. Hardware, firmware/software and data must stay secure through the entire product lifecycle. It’s the same approach whether you’re a security analyst or operations person responsible for IoT solutions. IoT’s full potential will only be reached if security challenges are addressed. That requires a combination of interoperability, education and good design—and a proactive, not reactive approach to designing security features.

IBM’s approach to security

At IBM, we take security very seriously. We understand the intricacies of IoT. And we have the combined expertise from across our entire organization to explore the issues and provide best practices. Our thought leaders from IBM Research, Security and IoT joined forces on a comprehensive overview of IoT Security. Read our latest POV on cognitive security for the Internet of Things for the implications, best practices and standards of IoT security.

Learn more about the security trend in this handy inforgraphic: Five indisputable facts about IoT security

Download the infographic: Five indisputable facts about IoT security

Trend #4 SaaS

Many IoT implementations still require on-prem implementations. But in 2018, there will be more (and very clear) instances where Software as a Service (SaaS) is a viable option. Next year, I believe we’ll see more companies choose the SaaS approach to quickly create and prove out a variety of IoT scenarios at lower investment levels.

How to benefit with SaaS

Here are three major benefits that SaaS brings to an IoT deployment and why I predict that it’s a trend to watch:

  1. Organizations will realize benefits more quickly. Maybe you’re just getting started. You’re collecting and sifting through telemetry data to discover new insights. Or maybe you’re ready to unleash machine learning on heaps of data to predict future machine failures. Either way, SaaS gives you the option to be up and running in hours, not months or years.
  2. There’s a lower cost of entry. A typical IoT solution is comprised of several components spanning many technologies. There is device-side firmware, multiple connectivity technologies, server-side logic, vast amounts of data, and machine learning. Do you have the budget to develop and manage all that infrastructure from day one of your IoT project? An IoT SaaS implementation makes it easier to start slowly and grow a solution over time.
  3. There’s also Increased flexibility. Don’t limit your evaluation of the SaaS solution to your initial IoT needs. Given the uncertainty of how your business will leverage IoT, now is a great time for some experimentation. In the new year, take advantage of SaaS capabilities to push your IoT project further or to try multiple scenarios.

Trend #5 Cognitive Computing

Last on my trend list, but certainly not least, is Cognitive Computing. The Internet of Things is at the threshold of a tremendous opportunity. For over a decade we’ve connected things with unique IP addresses. But the commoditization of sensors, processors and memory now make it possible to makes everyday things more than just connected … they can be intelligent.

Use the IBM guide to learn how to use cognitive computing to gain deeper individual insights.

Learn more about cognitive computing in this IBM guide.

Beyond traditional IoT implementations, cognitive computing increases the amount of data to improve the learning environment. That, then, increases the possibilities of what can be done with edge analytics – making sensors capable of diagnosing and adapting to their environment without the need for human intervention.

Another huge advantage of cognitive IoT: the ability to combine multiple data streams that can identify patterns. With that, they give much more context than would otherwise be available.

Unlocking IoT value

Cognitive IoT, AI and machine learning enable enterprises to unlock IoT value. An exploding amount of IoT data requires a new approach to gather, analyze and understand it all. And that massive amount of sensor and device information can be used to enhance what’s already known. Plus, it can also uncover new insights capable of transforming industries.

While making sense out of dark data and edge data paves our way to revolutionary ideas and technologies, it requires a cognitive approach. One that can effectively handle increasingly large inputs while generating meaningful output. Programmable systems thrive on prescribed scenarios using predictable data. But their rigidity can limit their usefulness when addressing the ambiguity and uncertainty of IoT data. Cognitive systems, however, are not explicitly programmed. They learn from interactions with people and from experiences with their environment. And in doing so, they become able to keep pace with the complexity of the Internet of things, identifying data correlations that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Looking forward to 2018

I expect these five things to play a major role in enterprise IoT in the coming year. And I fully expect other trends will emerge that aren’t even on the horizon yet. Because IoT is evolving so rapidly, there’s always something new!

As we look ahead to 2018, I hope you’re as excited about the IoT world as I am. And if you have thoughts on these or other trends that you believe will drive IoT transformations, let me know. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


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Transforming E&U operations with IoT

With the proliferation of smart meters and cheap sensors, energy and utilities companies are looking to technology as a catalyst for business change. Distributed power generation is eroding traditional revenue streams. Plus an aging distribution infrastructure is cutting into profit margins. As a result, utility companies are trying to extract as much value as possible from their smart grid and meter investments to evolve their operations.

How IoT is changing the energy & utility industry

The Internet of Things (IoT)  stands to change operations for energy and utilities firms. By combining smart meters with sensors across infrastructure, cognitive computing and analytics at the edge of networks, E&U companies can re-think traditional operating models. For example, Doug Voda of ABB recently discussed productivity improvements using IBM and IoT. And IoT technologies also help utilities to overcome challenges that come with the evolving energy landscape.

Energy and utility providers face fundamental disruptions to their business models, revenue streams and regulatory relationships. Because these changes are historically unparalleled, they also demand uncharacteristic agility on the part of the utilities to survive and thrive through the current transition period. Three converging factors are forcing this disruption:

  • The decreasing cost of renewable generation and gas-fueled generation to customers, challenging utility monopolies with the threat of substitution.
  • The entrance of third-party aggregators into the distribution market.
  • The move by regulators away from traditional ratemaking formulae and toward outcome-based rates. That then provides a fixed rate of return on the asset base to investors.

As a result of improving technologies and emerging regulatory models, industry financials are changing dramatically. This means broad implications across operations, asset management, regulatory, customer and supply chain processes.

Preparing for the future

To successfully contend with industry disruptions, utilities realize that they need analytics. Unfortunately, most have multiple existing analytic point solutions within each domain. These domains include grid operations, maintenance, planning, finance and supply chain. What that means, then is that utilities need is integrated approach that provides a single source of the truth across domains and systems…all to simplify generation of business insights. And they need both out-of-the-box models to accelerate time to value and an open platform to extend solution capabilities to meet individual provider needs.

To address these needs IBM has developed IBM IoT for Energy and Utilities. This open analytics solution meets a wide range of current and future provider needs. Via data integration, analytics, and visualization, it provides a detailed, accurate understanding of historical and current asset and network performance. It also integrates with existing data sources and operational processes. That means you’ll have the ability to analyze and predict asset performance and risk to help deliver safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy. Key applications include asset performance management, situational awareness, health and risk, and investment planning. You’ll also find connectivity model verification, and wind farm optimization.


With IoT for Energy, you are able to aggregate and analyze operational data to visualize asset health

Use aggregate and analyze operational data to visualize asset health

Learn how you can differentiate your company in an increasingly crowded market, or talk to an expert on IBM IoT for Energy and Utilities page.




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Battery-free Bluetooth tech from Wiliot one step closer to transforming IoT

Battery-free Bluetooth tech from Wiliot one step closer to transforming IoT

In its latest investment round, fabless semiconductor start-up Wiliot has secured funding from Qualcomm Ventures and M Ventures that will help bring its battery-free Bluetooth technology to fruition.

For all the advancements that battery technology has brought to computing, communication and the internet of things, it also serves to limit these fields. Modern devices can go further, for longer but their power-hungry nature is still constrained by the limitations of current batteries and the need to recharge.

Wiliot’s mission is to scale IoT with battery-free Bluetooth. Based in Israel and California, the company was founded by Gigabit Wi-Fi pioneer Wilocity, a group of wireless engineers experienced in building new wireless products and their associated ecosystems.

The latest investment round follows Wiliot’s Series A funding, which ended in January, yielding $ 14 million. The start-up has raised a total of $ 19 million in its first 10 months as a semiconductor company.

“The quality and experience of the founding team at Wiliot, coupled with their passion to envision a more pervasive IoT, gives us the comfort that Wiliot will significantly change the game, particularly in the medical field, while expanding use and acceptance at a far larger scale,” said Edward Kliphuis, investment director of new businesses at M Ventures.

Read more: Brunel scientists develop flexible, wearable 3D-printed battery

How battery-free Bluetooth works

The current Bluetooth beacon market has peaked in terms of reducing costs, size and ease of maintenance – a limit born largely from the use of batteries. Wilocity’s solution is to remove this element completely.

You may be left wondering how a wireless device can be powered without a battery. The answer is all around us – radio waves. Wiliot’s low-power technology can harvest energy from the electromagnetic radiation that saturates the air with our communications and broadcasting.

“This new technology will allow a sensor/radio/processor combination to be embedded in products, packaging, walls and furniture so that these things can be smarter and communicate with other Bluetooth devices, including smartphones,” said Tal Tamir, CEO and co-founder of Wiliot. “We will enable everything to be intelligent and every place we go and anything we wear, touch or use will include sensing, connected, passive devices with an unlimited lifetime.”

This is made possible thanks to the low-power requirements of the passive sensors and processors –the culmination of decades of fabrication process shrinks, as described by Moore’s Law.

Read more: Metals shortages pose little risk to future battery production, MIT finds

Could battery-free Bluetooth transform IoT?

“The range of new applications is endless, given the level of miniaturization and lack of power dependency,” said Boaz Peer, Director at Qualcomm Ventures Israel. “As we look at the IoT space, we see battery-free Bluetooth technology as the next great leap, driving exponential growth for the entire IoT ecosystem, from smartphones and Wi-Fi hubs to battery powered beacons.”

It’s a grand vision that adds another piece to the battery-free IoT puzzle. Battery-free RFID sensors and actuators, triggered by the presence of things like temperature and pressure, have been available for some time. The widespread ability to transmit a Bluetooth signal with energy drawn from radio waves has the potential to bring sweeping changes to IoT.

Read more: Microsoft and GE team up on wind energy and battery tech

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How Big Data is Transforming the Legal Field

How Big Data is Transforming the Legal Field

How Big Data is Transforming the Legal Field

An article by Marc, Editor at IoT Business News.

Big data refers to the massive volumes of data collecting on everything from internet searches to app usage to IoT devices such as connected wearables. The development of tools able to find the useful pieces of information in this firehose of data and collate it into patterns is likely to impact numerous sectors.

One of the areas where big data has already started changing the business practises is the legal field. Examining this particular example shed some light on how big data is about to transform all the sectors where data intelligence really makes a difference. Here are a few ways massive data collection and computing is already transforming the legal field.

Identification of Potential Clients

Big data is allowing many law firms to identify potential clients much more strategically and at a lower cost. The classic case of sending a postcard to everyone who has recently received a DUI ticket is being replicated by law firms using data analysis tools to find clients like those who are running a business out of their home and may want business legal advice.

Another variation of this is the analysis of law enforcement actions, such as finding that one cop issues five times as many tickets as others or one specific jurisdiction is responsible for the vast majority of civil forfeitures. These abnormalities are not necessarily bad since Pareto’s Law says that you’ll have a few outliers in any situation. However, identifying the oddities gives you the situations that require investigation, as well as hard data that can be used to prove the case that cops in a particular town are looking for cash to seize or issuing citations for profit.

Offensive and Defensive Database Analysis

Data mining can find potential cases of fraud in billing, contract awards and sales. Data mining provides hard evidence of potentially biased hiring, promotion and firing practices. Conversely, data mining by police and data-driven policing can snare people who did nothing wrong but fit the “bad” profile or did something out of the ordinary.

Another form of data mining is the mining of social media, whether looking for the source of a data leak, determining the timeline of activities by a subject or getting a bigger picture of the impact on a business’ reputation after false allegations. In this regard, social intelligence tools used by marketing companies can be used to prove the harm caused by slander and data mining tools like RIOT and PRISM by the feds can likewise prove that someone was not where the state says they were. This is where the USD Law School and other institutions have started teaching data mining practices as part of their curriculum. It’s an interesting topic for law students and one that is likely to crop up more frequently in the future.

The massive amount of legal records to be mined offers opportunities, too. The ability to search for legal records about nearly anyone allows attorneys to identify those who have a pattern of filing frivolous lawsuits or suing for personal financial gain.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Data analysis and artificial intelligence can mine databases and connect different data sets, providing insights that otherwise take months or years of research. This can save massive amounts of time for law firms that know how to use these tools.

Big data is about to prompt one of the biggest shifts we have ever seen in the world of law. But it is also going to have some major impacts in the business processes of many other industries. And IoT, should play a key role in this transformation by fueling the market-specific’s big data algorithms with new types of information and insights coming from the billions of connected devices out there in the field.

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